If you can imagine a parking garage with a valet service run by robots, then you have a good idea of what's up the road in West Hollywood, Calif.

In June, city officials plan to issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the city's first fully automated parking garage for City Hall visitors, staff and commercial visitors, according to Oscar Delgado, the city's director of public works and project lead. Essentially the proposed 200-space parking structure will use computer-controlled motorized lifts, conveyers and shuttles to transport cars from an entry bay to a parking space and vice versa. No humans needed.

But the project is still in its early stages. City planners are currently meeting with fire officials to address any concerns about structural integrity before the RFQ goes out. The idea, Delgado said, is to prequalify as many vendors as possible to start a bidding war.

The automated parking garage is not a new concept. In fact, these garages have existed overseas for decades. America finally caught on in the early 2000s with the opening of the first fully automated garage in Hoboken, N.J. But Hoboken's garage was hammered by mechanical mishaps. That, along with strict building codes, wary developers and the recession has stalled automated parking projects in the U.S. in recent years.

But now, as local governments search for ways to be green and save green, more cities are thinking automated garages may be a smart solution. And officials in West Hollywood, a city known for its green practices, believe their parking garage plans will drive similar efforts throughout the region.

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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer